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explaining photocell timers to customers

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I will have to say, If I have to explain photocell timers one more time this season I am going to lose it. It was pretty overcast today, but I really do not understand why people DO NOT UNDERSTAND them. I say, they come at dark, and shut off 6 hours after they come on. ok, they say, have them come on at 5 and shut off at 11. hmm, well, yes, ok, but they don't work that way, I say, they come on at dark, which can be 4:45 or 5:15, then they shut off 6 hours after that. but the questions keep coming-why don't they come on at the same time? they are 5 minutes off. how come my headlights turn them off? something is wrong with the lights since I put a huge plant in front of the timer. that timer did not work so I turned it on. (which they mean, to the setting "on") and on and on. I used to have dozens of digital timers, and I spent dozens of service calls replacing them and dozens of hours reprogramming them behind my guys. no matter how hard I tried, I could not train them to understand the difference between AM and PM. and digital timers die at a rate of 3-5x faster than photocells, and cost 2x as much too. so the photocells fix all that. set it on 6. all the guys can do that. but man, now I spend hours explaining why half the lights are on when they come home from work. or why the timer that came on first goes off first.
  2. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    I would recommend going old school analog timers. You'll still have the issue with training your staff, but I found that customers where generally able to set the timer to how they wanted it without calling.
  3. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    I looked all over for them this year, had some issues with a new high end venue that the residual light is to much for the photo cell. I had no luck t all locating any
  4. Irrigation Contractor

    Irrigation Contractor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    I am with Hot Rod on this one....keep it simple stupid. (I am not saying that to you Dave. I have to remind myself all the time because I am always looking for something new, cool, technical and different)

    We write up extremely detailed instructions for everything we do. We put them into pdf. portforlio's and in print, but 9 of 10 never read them. It has gotten to the point where I have saved email replies so I do not have to write the same response over and over.

    For those that do irrigation and install ESP clocks....ever get an email stating "my alarm light is on and you need to come fix this right away"? It is usually right after it rains:nono:
  5. OP
    David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    the funny thing is, the old school analogs don't all come on at the same time either. and training employees- there are a few different analog ones out there. some you pull the pins out, some you push the pins in , and some have green and red little pins. but all photocell timers are universal, all have a number 6. and the biggest and best reason, photocells don't need to be reset after a power outage or a gfci pop. trust me on this, photocells require the least training, least service, and offer the maximum reliability. If I had 600 analog timers out there ( and we have about that many photocells or so) and we had two major power outages, I don't care what instructions I print for my customers, well over half won't even plug their lights in or turn them off now, much less fix their own timer.
  6. TimNNJ

    TimNNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    We had some problems with the digital timers..am/pm like Dave said. A bunch got wet and crapped out ..I like the photocell idea..k.i.s.s...I really want to hash out the timer situation this year..does the photocell you use go to 8 hrs?..We set the timers from 5:30-12:30 which everyone seemed fine with...some wanted later.

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